Friend is simply defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as “a person who you like and enjoy being with,” and Best Friend as “one’s closest and dearest friend.” Friends have similar interests and best friends even share the joys and sorrows of life. Having your spouse as your best friend can be one of the great benefits of marriage. If you and your spouse are already best friends, that’s wonderful; if not, maybe it’s time to understand the importance of friendship in marriage.
Relationship expert John Gottman, professor at the University of Washington, and author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, says “Happy marriages are based on a deep friendship” and that friendship is the core of a strong marriage. Gottman’s research has shown that a high quality friendship in a marriage is an important predictor in romantic and physical satisfaction.
Friendship is one of the characteristics of a happy and lasting marriage, as well as the foundation of a healthy marriage. Research has shown that couples that have a great friendship have a higher percentage overall of marital satisfaction. In fact, the emotional connection that married couples share is said to be five times more important than their physical intimacy. Couples that are friends look forward to spending time together, and genuinely like one another. Their activities and interests actually become enhanced because they have their favorite person with whom to share their life experiences.
Building and nurturing the marital friendship can strengthen a marriage because friendship in marriage is known to build emotional and physical intimacy. Friendship helps married couples to feel safe enough to be more open with one another without worrying about being judged or feeling insecure. Nurturing and building that friendship in marriage does require practice and takes time and effort. Below are some marital friendship-building skills and techniques to help maintain and strengthen your marriage.
Marital Friendship Building:
- Time: Spend quality time together
- Communication: Talk and share about everyday life
- Trust: Be honest and loyal
- Interests: Find common interests Have fun with one another. Laugh together Make lasting memories Do and try new things together
- Goals: Set and work towards life goals with one another. Dream together
- Priority: Make your spouse feel like a top priority Respect each other Treat one another equally Cheer on each other’s successes Lean on one another in times of need Appreciate your spouse Be considerate of each other Be forgiving of one another-don’t hold grudges
Knowing your spouse well is a key element in becoming or remaining best friends with your partner. Playing “get to know you” or “self trivia” games can be a truly helpful and fun exercise. Quiz one another on details such as; name of your elementary school, your blood type, favorite song, or biggest turn on. Make the prize something like: who does household chores, foot or back massages, or the winner gets to pick the next movie or restaurant.
Physical intimacy may fade in a marriage, but the emotional intimacy needn’t. True friendship lasts a lifetime. If you and your spouse are having difficulties building or nurturing your friendship, a Marriage and Family Therapist can help.